Pew report underlines mobile challenge

In its State of the News Media 2015, released last week, the non-profit Pew Research Center underlined the impetus of readers’ migration from desktop to mobile. The reduced time spent consuming content on mobile devices will continue to present a challenge for marketers.

At the beginning of 2015, 39 of the top 50 news sites had more visitors coming to their websites and other applications from mobile devices than from desktops, according to Pew. The top 50 list includes legacy as well as digital news media. For half the sites, mobile visitors spend less time than desktop visitors. This is not true of only 10 of the sites.

Part of the move to mobile is surely the concurrent trend to consume news via social channels, with nearly half of adults surveyed consuming news via Facebook, according to 2014 research by Pew.

These bare facts raise some important questions–and challenges–for marketers.

First, it’s remains quite possible, even in 2015, that the news sites which fail to retain mobile visitors as long as desktop visitors are still not fully optimized for mobile. This would be less likely if desktop visitor retention was down across the board, but the 10 sites which engage mobile visitors as long as website visitors may simply be providing a better mobile experience. This, together with the trend for mobile search results to favor mobile-friendly results, highlights the crucial importance of mobile optimization.

Second, the statistics increase the importance of understanding how short attention spans can get without marketing efforts becoming futile. Here there are grounds for optimism. Nielsen research on Facebook ads showed that brand awareness, ad recall and purchase consideration were all increased from the moment a viewer clicked on an ad, and that “people who watched under three seconds of the video ad created up to 47 percent of the total campaign value.”

Perhaps it is possible to market to an audience in the blink of an eye. But the challenge of doing so should prompt a wide-ranging rethink of the type and richness of experience its practical to offer an increasingly mobile–in every sense–audience.

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